Line of Duty Series-Blog: Episode 5

July 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

LINE OF DUTY: Tuesday 24th July, BBC2, 9pm

*Read last week’s blog here*

Since the beginning of Line of Duty, Gates’ career has been nearing ruins, but last week’s episode is where things truly turned sour for him. In a rather gruesome end, Gates’ desperation resulted in DS Arnott being tied to a chair as a group of masked men and a child prepared to cut his fingers off.

It was a horrific, but fantastically compelling set-up for the final instalment, which you’d imagine would be the big pay off, where everything neatly concludes. After four episodes of twists and suspense and loose ends, I could scarcely wait to watch this one. I wanted that vile kid to get his comeuppance and I wanted Gates to get what’s coming to him.

But if there’s something Line of Duty does well, it’s changing the audience’s perceptions of how they view the characters. Just when you’re sure that you like or loathe a character something happens that makes you feel completely differently.

I thought Gates was utterly reprehensible at the end of last week’s episode, but by the time the series finale came to a close, things weren’t quite so clear. In the end, he kind of did the right thing, and I genuinely felt sympathetic towards him.

The same, however, can’t be said for Ryan, the little brat who tried to cut DS Arnott’s fingers off. Although the final episode tried to make viewers take pity on him—with his uncaring mother and his parents’ divorce—it’s still too difficult to feel sorry for the little shit.

An on-going theme throughout Line of Duty has been the ludicrousness of police bureaucracy, how it often hinders rather than helps the police with their investigations. Episode five continues to explore this idea with some success.

We see, in Ryan’s case, that the system in place favours him because he’s young. He’s treated not as a criminal, but as a child who doesn’t know any better. He’s surrounded by people who protect him during his interrogation, and he even demands a Big Mac at the end of it all.

The final instalment goes even further in criticising police protocol. Justice is repeatedly prevented throughout the episode and the officers only solve the case because they themselves break the law.

The series might, and probably does, have a point, but I can’t help thinking that Line of Duty is just a bit too far fetched to be taken seriously as respectable commentary on the inner workings of the police force.

Even so, that didn’t stop the last episode from being any less gripping. The series started off quite unspectacularly, but has been improving more and more each week, with the finale topping them all.

For me, the highlight of the episode was meeting Tommy, an odious shit of a man, who has given more even more reason to be suspicious of people who play golf. To be more specific, my favourite moment was when he was repeatedly punched in the stomach.

It’s a shame, however, that the series had to end the way that it did, with American Graffiti-style captions. It seemed like a bit of an easy way of tying things up, and because it’s such a cliché in American coming of age movies I was half expecting, “DS Arnott graduated and is moving in with two sexy ladies!“ to appear on the screen. Unfortunately it didn’t.

I can’t finish the blog on a negative note, however. Episode five was a fantastic end to the series and it also opens things up for a second series, which I’m sure would be just as compelling, although surely very different.

reggie says:

Liked he programme, the only thing that I felt let it down was the man on the camera, I was wondering if he was something like a ten year old boy who found the camera too heavy and was having trouble holding it steady, or whether he was drunk and trying ro do the same thing.

pete says:

Oh for the days when British programmes were judged solely on their own merits. Those days right up to the 90′s when British TV believed (knew) it couldn’t be bettered anywhere.
This programme was, I accept, entertaining but it lacked any voice of its own.
And indeed it does, what British TV now seems to do best; nod, laboriously in the direction of America. In this case, The Wire. But The Wire’s pessimistic message is a profound one based on intelligent and knowledgeable dissection of various organs of society and how their dysgeneses affects those at the bottom – this in stark contrast to Line of Duty. The ending, in particular, is sloppy. It’s pessimism tells us…, well, what? Well,only that it’s pessimistic and that in itself makes it intelligent and brave.
Some say there are no such things as “Golden Ages.” I believe there are. But it’s not a question of talent or a lack of it – ‘cos there’s always talent. What’s important is that room has to be made for talent to speak. In the UK, Potter is long gone, Bleasdale is largely ignored. Yet, now, in American, TV has faith in thsy individual voice and TV in general is much the richer for it.
I remember David Puttnam back in the early 90′s talking about how in an age where Hollywood and American TV were all powerful throughout the globe, one thing shone out, seemingly unmoved by US cultural power. And that was British Television.
Today, it’s enough to be compared favourably with The Wire or with Madmen. And the BBC and ITV admen. My, they’re cute. Be sure they will always roll out the actors to let us know how good, how tight, how different, how awesome the writing is and how the characters are so real. But they’re clichés wrapped up to look like novelty. It’s the old Persil but it’s the new Persil.
British Television? Now there’s a pessimistic story worth telling.

April says:

Yes, line of Duty was compelling but there were too many ‘no ways’ to make it truely classic in the sence that you were able to totally relinquish yourslf to its premise and plot. There was the glass, – pretty easy to destroy beyond all helpful means of detection I would’ve thought – smash into tiny pieces, distribute liberally etc etc. Then there was the miraculous instant recovery from a concusion which rendered Gates even more lucid than he was before and not really that flustered in the least. Then there was Vicky Mcclures bash on the head with walking stick by Bob the builder in full view of all and sundry – which would surely have led to some disciplinary proceedings in this beaurocracy gone mad vision of police hell (not to mention the gob on the back of the head) but noone even flinched or spoke about it again. Then there was the hospitalisation of the traumatised victim of boltcutters who was immediately sent back to work following an operation to save his fingers. I don’t think he even got time for a shower in the hospital. The thing that really annoyed me was the blatant theft from The Wire, plot line and sinker with even the best lines being nicked “If you come at the King you better not miss” being the Wires version of Gates grandstand episode 2 line to Arnott. Not classic but enjoyable and Vicky McClure was as always amazing. Ps I loved the toe curlingly evil Scotsman, they do make the best TV gangsters – one trick the Wire missed